Netflix vs. HBO

Recently, there was an article written where Time Warner wasn’t terribly concerned about Netflix because he believes HBO will beat them. Initially I opened my mouth, poised to spout a reactionary “BULLSHIT” at the top of my lungs, then I stopped. Are they right? And there are a lot of streaming services now, some emulating Netflix and others operating on a premium structure.

So for example, I’ll go to Crunchyroll if there’s an obscure anime I’m actually interested in that they actually have (which is only about 10% of the time) that Netflix doesn’t carry anymore or never carried in the first place (such as One Piece or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure). I’ve never really checked out Hulu or Amazon Videos. Red Box is right out as I haven’t rented anything like that since 2008.

I’m not deliberately trying to get sidetracked, but you have to understand that even though Netflix is really good, it’s only really good for people who still have shows and movies on it that they actively watch. This thought stems from articles I’ve seen where people have simply cut Netflix entirely out of their routine as though it’s nothing, in many cases also cutting cable as well.

The claim there is there’s so much online content they watch that’s already available completely free online or they barely watch TV in the first place. A lot of cable providers are sweating because they’re worried about the inevitable: no more TVs. I say “inevitable” because let’s be real here…I like having a big screen TV, but only so I can play videogames and movies.

Fuck yeah

TV shows on the big screen…ehh, I guess. I mean, it definitely makes it more fun, but it’s not necessary. And so many of us carry around a smartphone and can access all of that on the fly. What Time Warner’s banking on is this idea that HBO has SO much great content that it will keep people absolutely GLUED to the TV screen, allowing them to continue to rake in the big bucks.

Yeah, but…well, maybe they haven’t heard. I mean, come on, they ARE Time Warner after all. HBO has had a streaming service similar to Netflix for a while now called HBO Go. Oh, and it’s cheaper to have just the streaming service rather than the cable channels. So let me get this straight: you’re not worried because you have HBO, but you don’t exactly OWN HBO, they’re making almost as much profit marketing to people directly without any assistance from you whatsoever, and…well, I guess that’s it.

How is this an ace, exactly? Okay, so Time Warner’s full of dumbasses, let’s move on. I have access, at any given time, to the following streaming services: Showtime Anytime, HBO Go, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and a service that allows me to stream anything I have saved on my DVR and even live TV, which I will not disclose here because it includes my company name in it (oh you were so close, SO close).

The first thing I’ll say is all of these services are particularly useful depending on what you want to watch. I can catch up on The Sopranos with HBO Go (yeah I’m a little late on that). I can check out Ray Donovan on Showtime Anytime. I can watch Is It Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon on Crunchyroll (just…go with it). And there’s a retarded amount of content on the other services.

Just so you know what I wasn’t bullshitting you

So who’s the best? That’s just it; there’s no easy way to decide that. I watch Netflix for a wide variety of programs, all of varying lengths. It’s the best all-around service, but when I say that I mean that if my kids want to watch something, okay…if I want a scary movie, alright…if my wife and I want to catch up on Supernatural, cool…if there’s a standup we’ve been wanting to see for a while, sweet.

Yeah, they have a lot of great shows on there, but you get most of the really good content by doing a lot of digging, developing a large taste profile, and through constant discovery. With the other services, they can be somewhat limited, but they’re adding stuff constantly and it’s more “focused.” HBO Go isn’t really ideal for kids, obviously, and neither is Showtime Anytime for that matter.

So this brings up yet another good argument: if you’re saying that HBO is this powerhouse company able to take down Netflix, alright then, name 10 shows HBO has that are good for kids. Wazzat? You can’t think of any? Yeah, I didn’t think so. “Yeah, well, I don’t have kids, so I don’t care!” And hey, that’s fine. However, there are enough of us that do that that would have to be taken into consideration.

Alright, so it’s a silly argument then, right? Well, hang on. Let’s talk about this as a premium vs. premium content source. Yeah, I like shows like Supernatural, How I Met Your Mother, Sherlock, and so on. However, many of them don’t stack up to shows like Ray Donovan, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and…yeah, I’ll just drop the bomb here and now…Game of Thrones.


There will probably always be a reason to hit up Netflix, but I would be equally bummed if I gave up HBO. “Okay, so what happens if I run out of content?” How? “Okay, like, if you sat down for a whole day and binge watched the rest of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones, then what would you watch?” You seriously have no scope of how many hours of content are on there.

There will never be a point, even if all I do is watch HBO Go, that I will run out of content. And if there is, there will be more within a month. And hey, I could even take a hiatus from it, go to Netflix for a while, and when I come back there will be oodles of new content. If anything, they are services that complement each other. However, if I really HAD to rate them, here’s how it would go for me…

Bottom of the barrel – Crunchyroll. Look, I like anime. Not all the time, but I like it. There’s even content for kids on there, so yay. However, absolutely none of it (that I’ve found so far) is dubbed, which means I have to constantly read. I don’t mind reading, but having to do it to the level they expect makes it hard to, say, eat while I watch something. Furthermore, the advertisements* are stupid and constant. You will often get 3 advertisements in a row, 2 of which are usually the SAME DAMN ad.
*Yes, I’m aware that the premium version is ad free, but that costs money that I’m already paying to the other services.

Great anime, but it’s no Game of Thrones

Not quite the worst – TV streaming service. Yeah, it’s handy to be able to watch my DVR on the go and live TV, too. However, the quality isn’t quite as good as it is on my TV (probably due to connection speeds) and even when it works well, most TV content isn’t nearly as good or on the ball as premium content. There’s actually quite a lot I watch on TV…but I watch it on TV. Funny how that works.

Middle ground – Showtime Anytime. It’s not the best or the worst. Well, even the worst isn’t BAD, it’s just not as easily recommended. They don’t have BAD shows, but they’re not as good as HBO. They really just aren’t. Still, this is a great extension of shows that HBO doesn’t have and are still fun to watch. Showtime is basically a poor man’s HBO. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Higher tier – HBO Go. Look, if you have HBO, I don’t need to explain this. If you don’t, what the hell? It is literally the best premium service, hands down. You get more or less EVERYTHING HBO has done past and present. Yeah, that’s a lot. There are a ridiculous amount of series and constantly rotating movies you can watch. And really, 75% of their series are WELL worth watching. Nuff said.

Top shelf – Netflix. It’s true that the content on the whole isn’t nearly as good as HBO, but it’s also true that there are literally millions of titles I could select at any given time. It caters itself to my viewing habits and I have 500+ things on my queue. I will literally never run out of content. On top of that, it’s cheaper than HBO Go and Showtime Anytime AND has content for the whole family.

So there you have it. Netflix wins, hands down. Again, I don’t know how it compares to services like Hulu Plus and I’m constantly frustrated by shows they just don’t update or take down randomly. Yeah, that IS annoying. However, there’s literally too much content on there to the point that I can’t stay mad at them. It’s possible Netflix will be dethroned, but they’re like World of Warcraft: they did it right in an industry that was just starting and kept doing it right to the point that ANY time someone mentions MMO, that’s your go-to example.

Netflix is and I believe will remain strong in the streaming industry for at least a while longer. If they’re smart, they’ll keep doing what they’ve been doing, which is coming up with new original content as well, which is just pure profit for them, so they can eventually justify charging higher rates and acquisition new content. At least, that’s how I would do it.

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